Are You Safe at Lake Chapala ?

May 19, 2012

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We’ve all heard that beauty is in the eye of the beholder.
Crime is like that too. Each person has his or her idea of crime and their connection to it.
Many of our families and friends have always worried that we might be a little crazy for moving here to Lake Chapala because it’s in Mexico, which of course is based on the news accounts they’ve read over the years. Can you say “sensationalism”?
Until recently, our little slice of paradise has remained pretty much off the crime screaming headlines. Not so now. Let me put it in perspective for you.
You may have or will likely hear that 18 bodies were found “near Lake Chapala”.  “Near” of course is a relative term.
From the news’ reports I’ve been able to piece together none of the 18 bodies were foreigners and “near” is about 7 or 8 miles from Lake Chapala on the far North side of the mountains that separate the Ixtlauacan from Chapala.
According to the local news accounts, some of the bodies were refrigerated, before being dumped on the rural dirt road. To me this means that the bad guys wanted to get the body count up to make their bizarre statement.
As far as I can determine NO FORIGNERS have been killed at the hands of drug lords in or near Lake Chapala in over the 10 years I’ve lived in the area.
I know of just 3 North Americans murdered in all 30 miles of the North Shore of Lake Chapala where the bulk of North Americans live.
One was a Canadian which was thought to be a case of mistaken identity many years ago. More recently two men were murdered in separate incidences while resisting attempted robberies.
My advise … “Don’t resist” unless you’ve been trained to do so.
So, three North American victims in 10 years where an estimated 25,000 to 30,000 of us live spread out over about 30 miles.
Not good, but by comparison with places like Houston, Texas where the murder rate is quoted for 2010 in an article by author Robert Reid of the Lonely Planet, as having 143 murders or a rate of 6.8 per 100 thousand which is over three times the rate for Americans in Mexico.
Doing a little math let’s use 25,000 as the number of North Americans living at Lake Chapala and multiply by 10 years to get to 250,000.
Then let’s take 3 as the number of North Americans murdered for the estimated population of 250,000 over the 10 year period and the result is 1.2 murders per 100,000 North Americans residing at Lake Chapala.
This computes to 82.4 % fewer murders than the number quoted this for Houston. Compare that number to where you live.
My disclaimer: I’m not a statistician, I’m not very good at math, and I’m aware of the old maxim that “Figures don’t lie, but liars figure.”
No doubt someone smarter than me reading this can correct my math or my assumptions…. But, here’s the true bottom line. I’m not afraid to live, work, and play here and I don’t think you should be either.
But… with that being said each of us has to make our own (I hope informed) decision of where to visit, where to live, and where to retire.
I don’t live in fear and neither should you.
  • Mbengoaduprey

    Hi Sid,

    I agree with you. You may not be a statistician, but you make a lot of sense. Thanks. 

  • Mbengoaduprey

    Hi Sid,

    I agree with you. You may not be a statistician but you make a lot of sense.

  • Sid Grosvenor

    Thanks Mbengoaduprey, I’m waiting to get  summary of the local meeting with government officials. I have noticed more patrols of Federal Officers in our area.

    Last night in Ajijic about 9p.m. I saw 2 Federal Police Officers riding the  fast but small motorcycles. A great idea as they can go just about anywhere (between houses, down narrow pathways, climb stair, etc.)

    Patrols like this are very effective in both prevention and apprehension.

  • P Diran

    Innocent young people from Chapala area were kidnapped dismembered and murdered. I think this takes the violence to a new terrifying level. I have a house in Ajijic, have been going there since 1957 as a child, but I will not be there this year. Keep your head in the sand if you wish.

  • Sid Grosvenor

    Hi P Diran, Thanks for your comments.

    I can assure you that my head is NOT IN THE SAND.

    Some people just react emotionally and others make an informed analysis, thus my comparison to Houston’s horrible murder rate.

    None of us who live here all the time are ignoring anything. We’re all concerned and making rational choices. The point, in my opinion of the horrible crimes we hear so much about from screaming headlines, is to cause fear and intimidation by the bad guys.

    Our foreign community is doing all the right things to combat the recent violence to our Mexican hosts and friends.

    As I said in the article each of us has to make our own choice of how to act or react to these events. I think it was Winston Churchill who said something to the effect of, “All we have to fear is fear itself.”

    All of that being said, I do appreciate you taking the time to respond to the article and share your perspective. Tu amigo, Sid


  • J. Martinez

    It may be just my imagination but whenever you talk about safety at Lake Chapala you show yourself in your policeman’s uniform.  Is this supposed to give a sense of security?
    J. Martinez

  • Debbie

    When you have many kinds of troubles, you should be full of joy, because you know that these troubles test your faith, and this will give you patience. Let your patience show itself perfectly in what you do. Then you will be perfect and complete and will have everything you need. 
    Don’t be afraid of people who can kill the body but cannot kill the soul. The only one you should fear is the one who can destroy the soul and the body in Hell!
    I think everyone should live in faith.
    God Bless

  • Sid Grosvenor

    Hi J.Martinez,

    Well, I guess if I was talking about other topics I would try to add a photo connected to that topic. In this case I’ve had a lot more experience is dealing with the criminal element than most of our
    members. Uniforms of various types lend authority to the person speaking.

    If I were a cook and telling you about my favorite recipe I might be wearing a Chef’s hat.

    What type of photo should I use? The idea is to add some visual connected with the article.

    Tu amigo, Sid

  • Debbie

    I agree that people seem to put there head in the sand. I even email people and they get mad because I try to give them encouragement and caring thoughts. They don’t want to talk about it at all. It is good to talk about it. and to share some good words of faith. not to ignore! But to love!

  • Sid Grosvenor

    Hi Debbie,

    Thanks for your comments. You make some good points, but “My rod and my staff they comfort me”.

    Tu amigo, Sid

  • Mike

    good points Sid; I read an article recently by some clinical
    psychologists that measured fear and rational though and they
    concluded that the higher the fear factor, the more diminished the
    rational thought process.

    have been over 60,000 killings in this seemingly never ending drug
    war in the last 6 years that we know about. The figure could be much
    higher. It was confined to the Texas border but now has spread
    throughout the country (if it were up to me I would give Texas back
    to Mexico in return for Baja!). These murders are very different than
    murders by the criminally insane or individual murders of passion or
    robbery. Poor young men have been pressed into service for these drug
    cartels with wages 6 times what they can make

    as unskilled laborers. Once they have
    savagely killed and mutilated for their masters, they become
    desensitized from civilized society and detached from a moral center
    of gravity. They are not going to back to being “normal” humans
    and poor again and there is no way Mexico could ever rehabilitate
    them. Their numbers are growing and surely even if U.S. drug demand
    dried up, they will shift to kidnapping and extortion. Hillary may
    have it right when she says Mexico is turning into a narco-state.

    I hope that I’m over-reacting and I
    hope the government can get this under control- but Mexico’s future
    for tourism and retirees looks lousy to me.


  • Sid Grosvenor

    Hi Mike, Thanks for sharing your thoughts. It will take time of course and changes on both sides of the border. A start would be to take a bite out of the profits.

    This means considering legalization of marijuana so it can be taxed. controlled and lessen the drug lords profits. I think I read somewhere that a major part of their profit comes from marijuana.

    You also raise another point missed by most commentators about the “soldiers” of the cartels who “…become desensitized from civilized society and detached from a moral center of gravity.”

    Not totally unlike soldiers returning from combat. What ever we’ve learned about how to deal with this would have to be utilized to save them from themselves.

    No easy answers, but ‘all it takes for evil to triumph is for good men and women to do nothing.’

    Thanks again. Tu amigo, Sid

  • Philyrossy

    One would think that this writer is a Real Estate salesman, the way he “defends” the area. BTW, where I live in Texas has 0 murders for 42,000 people in 10 years. Houston and Ajijic are apples and oranges, they don’t equate.

  • Sid Grosvenor

     Hi Philyrossy,

    Thanks for your contribution. I defend the area because it needs defense from those who think that all of Mexico is unsafe and violent, Parts are, most parts are not just like other countries.

    20,000 plus North Americans would not call Lake Chapala home if the area was not safe. Perfectly safe no. Name one place that is “perfectly safe”.

    My job, as I see it, is to correct the false impressions many have or might have if I did not “defend” the area. I call it truth telling, dispelling misinformation and reassuring those who are considering our area fr retirement to come on down and see for themselves if our meets their criteria for a safe place to live, retire and spend their
    golden years without fear.

    Yes, I’m a Buyers Only Realtor. That means put my clients best interest ahead of my own.  I can live in luxury here on a policeman’s retirement pension. But, if the area did not me “MY” safety concerns I’d find someplace else better.

    SIncerely, Your host at Sid

  • Rwal2222

    just wondering how your feelings are now? there has been increasing violence targeted towards retired Americans in your area. in fact, the latest from my home town Seattle. Is the media also blowing this case out of proportion, or is it reality that maybe it’s no longer safe for people to live there.

  • Sid Grosvenor

     Hi Rwal2222,

    I sincerely believe community at Lake Chapala is safer than most places in the
    USA especially from personal attack.

    These instances are extremely rare in our area. Can you give information on any
    specific attack against a North American. I’d like to investigate and report back what I find.

    All for now, Tu amigo, Sid

  • morris

    it is almost crime free here.

  • Sid Grosvenor

    No, I don’t know of a place like that. I do believe based on bieng resident here for oever 10 years that North Americans are very unikley statically to be a victim to personal violent crime.

    The ladies feel safe to walk alone in our towns and villages even after dark.

    We’re a growing buy close knit community who look after each other, support the local police and help the less fortunate all of which gives us lower crime.

    Tu amigo, Sid

  • Mopussyplease

    But if you look at the whole country of Mexico and their murder rate vs America’s murder rate. Mexico’s murder rate is 5 times higher than the US. Mexico murder rate per million is 218 and the US murder rate is 42 per one million. If it’s so safe down there, then why do all the homes have bars on their windows. Stop lying to sell condos. You know it’s dangerous down there.

  • Mopussyplease

    But could you answer on question? If it’s so safe down there, why do all of the homes have bars on the windows and doors?

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